Using gritty earthen colors and warm shades of red and orange, the German artist Emil Doepler painted the above apocalyptic battle. The scene was inspired by Norse mythology’s end-time battle of Ragnarok, when the gods of Asgard were prophesied to battle it out to the end with their many foes—including giants, denizens of Hel, and the ever-troublesome Loki. For this painting, Doepler focused on one particular duel that occurred during the epic battle. In the center of the image is the Norse god, Odin, who is shown raising his magical spear, Gungnir, high above his head in preparation for a strike. His opponent, the snarling beast painted in hues of browns and greys, is the fearsome mythological monster known as the Fenriswolf, also called Fenrir. Unfortunately, Odin would eventually lose the fatal duel. As told by the medieval Icelandic politician and scholar, Snorri Sturluson (c. 1179-1241), “The wolf will swallow Odin, and that will be his death” (The Prose Edda, Gylfaginning, chapter 51). Yet, the wolf would not be able to relish his victory for long, as he, too, would be slain by the end of Ragnarok.
For more information on the Fenriswolf, read our article, HERE.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
- The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Jesse Byock. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.